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The Global Economic Cost of Visual Impairment


Adam Gordois


AMD Alliance




Acccess Economics


  • It is projected that by 2020 there will be approximately 929 million people with vision impairment (VI) worldwide, which is an increase of 27% from the 2010 estimate.

  • This increase is driven by population growth and ageing.

  • Health care system costs and indirect costs were projected to 2020 using the assumptions for 2010 and population forecasts (UN, 2009). In summary, costs are expected to grow by 9-10% between 2010 and 2015, and between 2015 and 2020 (an approximate annual average growth rate of 2%).

  • It is projected that in 2020 direct health care system costs will be $2.77 trillion and indirect costs will be $760 billion in 2008 US dollar prices.


Access Economics was commissioned by AMD Alliance International to estimate the economic impact of visual impairment (VI) in the global all-ages population, including the direct and indirect costs of VI, and the burden of VI on health. In this study, VI includes all people with a visual acuity (VA) less than 6/12.

This report comprises the following estimates: prevalence of mild VI (6/18 ≤ VA < 6/12), moderate VI (6/60 ≤ VA < 6/18), and blindness (VA < 6/60) by World Health Organization (WHO) subregion and major cause in 2010; the direct health care system costs of VI in each WHO subregion based on previous country studies and relative price adjustments, expressed in 2008 US dollars; the indirect costs of VI in each WHO subregion disaggregated by productivity losses, informal care costs, and the deadweight welfare loss (DWL) or tax inefficiency associated with public funding of health care, expressed in 2008 US dollars; the burden of disease, measured in disability adjusted life years (DALYs), of VI in each WHO subregion, disaggregated by years of life lost due to premature death (YLL) and healthy years of life lost due to disability (YLD); with projections of the above outcomes to the year 2020.